Wednesday, 28 September 2011

SSS '11: Days 26, 27 & 28

Day 26:

What I wore:

Me-made ship shape blouse, red Beignet skirt and pants. Thrifted cardi and the most awesome tattoo print tights known to man. Some sort of me-made jacket or coat probably got worn on Day 26 too, but I can't remember which.


Too much red? How much red it too much red? Do I look like I work for the company whose corporate colour is red? AGH!!!!!!! I just don't have the answers.

Day 27:

What I wore:

Me-made black sailor trousers, stripey T-shirt and pants. Also worn today was my A-mazing new jacket which I have yet to properly unveil. Watch this space...


You are going to flip when you see my new jacket. Bet you can't guess what the predominant them of it is?!

Day 28:

What I wore:

Me-made vintage bandstands-in-the-undergrowth fabric skirt, black stretch top, Saint cardigan and pants. NO COAT OR JACKET WAS WORN TODAY BECAUSE THE UK IS HAVING A LAST-MINUTE SUMMER!


Did I mention it was warm today? Not that you'd notice in my drafty work studio, but it made the walk to and from work nice.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Floral Wedding Wiggle

Ok, so here's what's happening today. I'm going to show you a dress that I finished weeks ago but have been waiting to get hold of the pics which were on Patty's camera. This dress was made to wear at the wedding of one of Patty's sisters. It was one of those occassions when the pattern and fabric appeared to me together like an apparition, I was given little choice but to go ahead and get the damn thing made!

I made it using one of those re-pro patterns, Butterick 6582 in this case, which I'd got hold sent from the US earlier this year. So, what's the deal with these re-pro patterns? Are they meant to be exact reprints? Or have they been adjusted to accommodate a more modern figure, by lowering the bust darts, for example? I couldn't really tell from this one as it gets its bust shaping from shoulder gathers instead of bust darts, and there seemed little in the way of other clues to go on.

Well, I think I was made aware of this pattern over on Sew Retro, but I'd only seen people make the full-skirted version (view C). I can't really understand that as the wiggle versions look so hot! The fabric is a lovely cotton sateen with a decent stretch content which makes the dress far more wearable than I imagine it would have been if I'd made it in 1960 with only non-stretch wovens at my disposal. It has a retro-y mid-century style paint effect cabbage rose design in magenta and turquoise. I saw this fabric last year in a fabric shop in Leigh in Essex with my mum. As you may know, I don't buy new fabric when I can help it so pawed at the roll for a bit and walked away. My lovely clever mum clocked my fabric-love and went back and bought me a couple of metres which she gave me for my birthday last October, bless!

Now, I decided to make life easy on myself and cut out the need to make a toile. I frankenstein'd this pattern with the one I made my coral dress and leopard rockabilly dress from. When I made that first coral version, I'd taken a lot of time to get the fit perfect and even found the motivation to transfer those markings back onto the pattern for future ease. It seemed silly to disregard that hard work. However, the frankensteining process wasn't as easy as I'd imagined it would be as the shoulder points and waistlines of the two patterns didn't tally up particularly well. I fudged it a bit then added a bit extra to the side seams to allow for any early-middle age spread that may have occurred over the last couple of years, and called the job a good 'un.

The construction process as dictated by the instructions bothered me somewhat, but I didn't have the time to spend on figuring out an alternative. In the end, I decided their way was actually pretty good, though I did the facings/zip insertion differently than instructed. (I'm such a rebel.)

A mid-way fitting proved that I needed to remove much of the extra width I'd added around the bum and hip area (woo hoo!). So with that skimmed off again, I finished it up. In general, I'm really happy with the outcome, however there are two inperfections that might niggle me if I were to let them. The first is that the 'V' of the cross over at the centre front isn't quite perfectly central. The second is that the fabric I used was a bit too heavy for the gathered shoulder detail. If I'd felt I needed a third from the same pattern, I might have done better to use this fabric with the original coral/leopard rockabilly dresses pattern to keep the fabric smooth. But I do think making another of those would have been pretty boring (actually I made another one of those this year for someone else, so it would have been my fourth) and the print disguises the shoulder imperfections.

What's left to do but DANCE??!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

SSS '11: Days 23, 24 & 25

Day 23:

What I wore:

Me-make denim sailor trousers, corazones rockabilly blouse, vest and pants. Cardi is thrifted and Swallow jacket aided my passage to work in the morning (my yellow jacket is in the wash due to an unfortunate smoked salmon-related incident).


I forgot about this blouse! Seriously, you get a whole extra season's use of things when you wear a vest under them, don't you?!

Day 24:

What I wore:

Me-made Jenny pencil skirt, leopard collar batwing top, vest and pants. My secondhand mustard cardi kept away the chills from time to time.


This is the outfit I wore to 'play shops' when I manned the Handmade Co-op shop for most of the day. LOVE this batwing top, the slinky fabric feels so nice and the wide neckline shows off my décolletage.

Day 25:

What I wore:

Me-made denim sailor trousers, cotton top and pants. I'll probably add a cardigan or jacket when I go to the cinema later.


The last couple of weeks have felt distinctly autumnal, but apparantly there's an Indian Summer heat wave due for next week. Today certainly felt unseasonally warm, I'm not even wearing a vest!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Brighton Craftaganza: Update!

Lydia Crook

For a year now, give or take, I’ve been one of the organisers of Brighton Craftaganza. Our main activity is hosting craft markets in a fantastic central-Brighton location where local crafters/designer-makers can sell their wares and promote themselves and their work. Recently we have been venturing into other areas to support the local creative talent. For example, in conjunction with the Handmade Co-op shop, we hosted the recent ‘Sales for People who Hate Selling’ symposium for which we invited a couple of experts trained in the dark arts of sales techniques to share the specific parts of knowledge that could be applicable to a face-to-face sales situation like a craft market.

Amanda Tree Carrot

Although more of an experiment than anything, this event proved a great success and we had some excellent feedback from the crafts people and designer-makers who were in attendance. We have more events like this in the pipe-line, all of which are very exciting, but our main order of business is the craft markets themselves.


Our maiden Brighton Craftaganza craft market happened in March and it was soooo much fun, as well as pretty successful from most of the sellers’ points of view. Due to the popularity of the venue we've been forced to hold fire for much of the rest of this year until availability allows us to hold another. The second Brighton Craftaganza coincides nicely with the festive season and will happen on Saturday 10th December at Fabrica on the corner of Duke Street and Ship Street. If you are lucky (?) enough to live in or be visiting the South of England at that time, you could do worse than pop down to Brighton on that day and pay us a visit. We have already allocated all our stalls to over thirty carefully selected locally based designer-makers. It’ll be a fantastic opportunity to pick up some truly unique hand-crafted Christmas gifts that have been made with love. Craftaganza will provide an oasis of creativity and in a sea of bland high street ubiquity!

When choosing which of the many applicants to offer a stall to, we reminded ourselves of our original manifesto: to represent the spectrum of ‘craft’ and to show that handmade products are just as good as, and most often far better than, their mass-produced equivalents. By ‘spectrum of craft’ I mean everything from the type of products you might expect to see at a traditional craft fair right through to really avant-garde contemporary work and everything in between. I find it really encouraging to see patchwork cushions selling alongside quirky illustrated T-shirts. I love that balance, plus it engenders a supportive and inclusive environment in which to try and sell your handmade products.

Mary Fellows

The variety of work that we represent is really what sets Brighton Craftaganza aside from the other art and craft markets in this area. The nature of production methods is such that handmade products provide a variety as well as uniqueness that you just can’t find in the high street shops. But to represent this variety in the best possible light, we offer stalls to those creating excellent quality as well as distinctly original work.

Lizzie Lock

With over thirty sellers who will have their work on sale on December 10th, it’s really difficult to pick just a few of them to feature in this post. But these are a selection of what you can expect should you be able to make to the Christmas Craftaganza. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

SSS '11: Days 20, 21 & 22

Day 20:

What I wore:

Me-make African wax fabric Anda dress, vest and pants. The cardi is secondhand and my me-made leopard coat was also worn.


I have had this dress for oh so very long, I can't look at it objectively. I'm not sure it's particularly flattering but we are kind of like family now, me and this dress. We've been through so much!

Day 21:

What I wore:

Me-made black sailor trousers, leopard collar batwing top, vest and pants. Second-hand mustard cardi again (can you tell my red one is in the wash?!) and me-made swallow jacket for my journey to work and later in the evening.


I'm falling pretty hard for this batwing top. I am being forced to rethink my usually avoidance of drapey jersey, it feels so nice to wear! I'm plotting another top from this pattern now. Oh, and in case you were wondering why I'm stuffing a sandwich into my face in this photo, it's for the Flickr group's Wednesday mini-photo challenge. This week was eating/drinking. I love how vacant my expression is!

Day 22:

What I wore:

Me-made vintage fabric skirt, black stretch top, Saint cardigan, vest and pants. Me-made swallow cardi got squeezed on on top of all those layers too.


That's some serious layering there, which kept me from feeling chilly though made me feel pretty padded up!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Leopard Collar Batwing Top

In the absense of a clever name for this garment, I've gone with a 'does what it says on the tin' type of title today. But hush now, it's sleeping. As I type now, this garment is mere hours old.

I developed this pattern yesterday morning as soon as I got into work, which is a very uncharacteristically proactive move for me on any morning, let alone a Monday morning. But to be honest, I'd been making batwing dresses and tops similar to this all last week so I already had an existing pattern as a starting point. I decided our range might benefit from the addition of a less extreme batwing shape for jersey with a contrast woven collar. My thinking being that a slimmer batwing might be more accommodating for wearing other garments on top of it, and contrast collars are absolutely everywhere in high street shops at the moment. Oh, and they are easy and relatively quick to make.

So the batch I made yesterday used various lengths of stretchy lace donated from a fabric manufacturer for the body and plain dove grey cotton for the collar. Today's batch, in case you can't guess, were made from various qualities of drapey black jersey from the same manufacturer source with leopard printed cotton twill that I'd squirrelled away since the summer for the collars.

As I may have mentioned in the past, I am allowed from time to time, if materials are sufficiently sufficient, to cut out an one of whatever I'm making for myself. I haven't made myself anything from our range for ages and this style appealed to me for a few different reasons. The silhouette and overall type of garment is something of a departure for me. I'd been thinking for a while about making myself a new jersey top but hadn't come up with an idea for anything other than a mild variation on something I already have. As I've wittered about before, I'm a massive fan of mid-Twentieth century kimono sleeve styles and this batwing top is kind of a distant cousin of those styles.

The issue that has always put me off batwing styles before is the whole difficulty with layering other garments over the top of them. I often feel cold so I'm a massive fan of the humble cardigan, I'm hoping that this higher underarm curve will allow for some looser cardigans to fit over the top.

During my mid-twenties, I had a couple of tops made from drapey jersey like the stuff I've used here. I wore them to death as they felt so nice but I've never really had access to this type of stuff in pure fabric form, nor a clue of what to do with it. In my more recent past, I tended to avoid drapey stuff that might disguise my curves, but this design has just a little drapery around the arms and is fairly figure hugging where it counts.

I like this collar because it's a bit of a diversion from the rounded Peter Pan shape which I feel I have already had the last word on with my exaggerated collar sweat shirt remake! Plus I have made so many garments with rounded Peter Pan collars in the last year that it's getting silly. BTW, does anyone have an idea of what this shape of collar is called? Is it a notched collar or something? My pattern cutting book has failed to provide an answer. Oh, and you well know my thoughts on leopard print.

Monday, 19 September 2011

SSS '11: Days 17, 18 & 19

Day 17:

What I wore:

Me-made black sailor trousers, Sailor Sencha blouse and pants. Thrifted red cardi (bored of this one yet?) and me-made yellow jacket for much of the day.


Nothing of interest.

Day 18:

What I wore:

Me-made black sailor trousers, long-sleeved stripey T-shirt and pants (plus the ubiquitous thrifted red cardi). When my me-made yellow jacket failed to protect me from another day of rain, I resorted to spending much of the day consuming coffee and cake indoors. Problem solved.


I spent the weekend visiting my mate in Bristol, so to travel light, my outfits for days 17 & 18 are almost the same except for the tops. Thus, I was still adhereing to my plan to wear a different outfit each day throughout September.

Day 19:

What I wore:

Me-made navy sateen skirt, bustier line T-shirt and pants. The cardigan is second-hand and my me-made leopard coat escorted me to and from work.


Love my new red tights. I feel a breath of colour has just wafted into my wardrobe! They have provided me with an added impulse to keep finding new garment combo's to keep this challenge interesting and useful for me by discovering more variety within my existing clothing.

Friday, 16 September 2011

SSS '11: Days 14, 15 & 16

Day 14:

What I wore:

Me-made navy capris, long-sleeved leopard top and pants. My me-made yellow jacket escorted me to and from work.


A fairly conventional work day outfit, except I was a bit under-dressed and felt pretty cold. You never can tell...

Day 15:

What I wore:

Me-made high waisted shorts, Sailor Sencha blouse and pants. The cardi, as you well know by now, is thrifted. My me-made Leopard coat kept me decent to and from work.


I felt pretty stupid dressing up this much during a week when I'm alone at work, but it felt pretty good to work these shorts into a new outfit combo. Particularly when the outfit combo includes so much of my favourite colour scheme! Wearing high-waisted things can feel like you are having a hug round your middle, therefore these shorts are surprisingly warm.

Day 16:

What I wore:

Me-made black Jenny skirt, mustard top, Saint cardigan and pants. My me-made yellow coat also got a breath of fresh air today.


It's annoying when you have a really good hair day (not particularly evident in this photo though) and no-one sees you but the Fed-Ex dude delivering bin bags. I went for a jog after work which has spoilt it now.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Refashioners Challenge Plus Giveaway!!!

A couple of months ago, fellow Essex-girl and refashioning genius Miss P had an awesome idea to encourage would-be refashioners and spread some inspiration. Her plan was to invite a clutch of sewing bloggers (any idea of the correct collective noun?!) to tackle a mystery secondhand garment selected and sent by Miss P herself. The refashioners were to remake their item, document the process and write a report. I was lucky enough to have been asked, along with some other talented sewer/bloggers Tilly, Casey, Karen, Dixie and Miss P herself. Well, I kind of roped Miss P in actually. I didn't think it was fair that she should be left out of all the sewing fun simply because she wasn't able to send herself a mystery package!

Well, when my garment arrived I was more than a little shocked to find a kilt! A ladies kilt-style skirt to be precise. It was a seriously hefty garment, with seams that were almost impossible to unpick. It took me quite a while to figure out how to approach the garment to turn into something more attractive and wearable. I felt a little pressure as I knew my refashion was going to be plastered across Miss P's lovely blog, plus I knew the point of this project was to provide inspiration for refashioners, not leave them questioning if remaking garments is worth the hassle.

So as you can see, the original garment was a fairly unflattering below-knee buckle fastened skirt. You can read a full description of the process this garment went through here. The final result:

I wanted to stamp a little of my personal style on the garment, which was an extra challenge as this garment isn't something I would be drawn to in a charity shop. My natural reaction was to make something with a bit of a vintage feel. I'm a big fan of wiggle-inducing pencil skirts, so I thought it'd be fun to aim for that but to encorporate the pleats into a fish tail effect which fans out in a cheeky way when the wearer walks. It's easy to forget that garments are actually often worn on a moving body rather than by someone only standing still, so it's nice to make something which is enhanced by movement.

Now, when I started this refashion I had a few reservations about how it would turn out. But I feel happier with the result that I could have hoped for. It's still recognisable as a kilt-style skirt, but it's received an injection of sexy sassiness that'll make it so much more fun to wear. I just don't think I'm the one to wear it. I have totally bonded with this garment, despite our initial unfamiliarity. Our 'journey' has brought us close, but I just don't have the lifestyle where I could see myself getting hardly any use from it. As I have stated before, I have enough skirts already that aren't getting worn. Also, I live in a little one bed flat with my boyfriend and I really need to keep my quantity of possessions in check because we are already somewhat engulfed. Plus I don't want to see my hard work gather dust.

The logical move is to offer it up in a giveaway! I'm not really sure what size you would say it is, but it fits me well and I'm a 30" waist and 40" hips. So if you've got the junk to fit this trunk and can promise me it will see the light of day with vague regularity, then I suggest you leave me a comment telling me why you should own this skirt. This giveaway will close at midnight GMT on Sunday 18th September, after which I will choose a winner and email them for their address and post it to them. REMEMBER: if you are going to make the effort to enter this giveaway, then leave an email address for me to contact you. I do not have the time or inclination to hunt through cyber-space trying to track down someone's contact deets. GOOD LUCK!!!!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

SSS '11: Days 10, 11, 12 & 13

Day 10:

What I wore:

Me-made lace embellished dress and pants. My me-made yellow jacket was worn in the evening.


Day 10 was actually a really exciting day. Pat and I organised and hosted an event to help crafters/designer-makers with their face-to-face selling technique. My folks had also came down to play, so we ate and drank well into the night to celebrate the event's success! Umm, the outfit helped me do these things as this is an excellent dress for hiding a big post-dinner belly!

Day 11:

What I wore:

Me-made bustier-line T-shirt, black sailor trousers and pants. My me-made Saint cardigan got carried about and probably worn at some point.



Day 12:

What I wore:

Remade sweatshirt, black sailor trousers and pants. My me-made leopard coat was worn during my morning battle against the elements as I walked to work in the rain.


This sweatshirt makes me smile when I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, but the collar flaps up in a silly manner when the wind is blowing!

Day 13:

What I wore:

Me-made granny dress and pants worn with red thrifted cardi. My me-made yellow jacket was worn in the evening.


At the start of the day I was wearing a different collection of clothes to this one. I hestitate to call what I was first wearing an 'outfit', as it was a pretty terrible mix of garments that I'd put together simply because it was a combination I hadn't previously worn. That's the danger with trying to create new outfit every day, I guess the result isn't guaranteed to be a success! So I changed into this outfit which felt much more 'put together', a pleasing feeling as I was going to an art gallery private view thing after work with the cream of Brighton's creative community. Here I am enjoying a glass of plonk with my awesome friend Rehanon who is also participating in SSS '11 and will soon be unleashing an amazing sewing blog in the near future (she made her wonderful top):

Monday, 12 September 2011

Poetry and Clothing Project: July

It's high time I created the next installment of the exciting Poetry and Clothing project. As you can tell by the title of this post, the timing of the project has slipped somewhat, but for excellent reason. Harriet, our resident poet, spent a large chunk of the summer cycling solo from Toulouse in France to Venice in Italy before taking a boat to Greece. This adventure, which culminated in an inspirational poetry symposium on a Greek island, took a couple of months in total, before she had to sell her bike and fly back to Barcelona. It sounds like she had an amazing trip and I'm sure I speak for many when I declare myself more than a little jealous! But that's Harriet: she thinks of something she wants to do, and gets it done despite any difficulties, practicalities and hurdles that may threaten to get in the way.

Since her return, she has typed up the most recent poems that form her side of this creative relay, so I'd best get on with sharing the garments I sent her for July.

First up, she received a garment that has already graced this blog: the red linen swing trousers. As you may or may not recall, these trousers, though the result of another lovely collaboration of sorts, just didn't work out for me. The fit and indeed style weren't right for me, so I decided to pass them on to Harriet who I knew would love their 1940s high-waisted stylings and most likely fit them better than I.

One special little detail that I forgot to share with you at the time is the cute domino button. The button that popped off because of my belly!

Harriet is also a tap dancer, and in fact tap dancing is an integral feature of the life of Lola, Harriet's alter-ego. I like to think that these trousers could look awesome when worn during a tapping session! They also fulfill two of Harriet's clothing requirements that she outlined when this project began: plain AND high-waisted.

The other garment I sent her for July was also made from seasonally-appropriate linen fabric. This is a really simple basic A-line skirt made from a vintage 1970s curtain. A pretty standard and uninspiring garment in some senses, but in another it was a relevant and useful training tool. I gave my best mate a sewing lesson in which she made her first ever garment, a lovely A-line skirt made from a cute black and white Eiffel Tower printed cotton. I aimed to touch Vic's skirt project as little as possible, because I really wanted her to get those most out of the lesson, and we all know how easy it can be to just say 'Oh, give it here' when teaching someone something. So my aim was to make the same garment along side as Vic made her's to show her the steps before she did her own. But actually she was really good and honestly didn't need much showing at all. I'll try and get a pic of Vic in her skirt one of these days...

But back to 'Poetry and Clothing'. As you may have noticed, when posting about a month's garments, I include for your pleasure the poem that Harriet wrote for me that was inspired by the previous month's garment/s. June's package consisted of a pale blue striped high-waisted pencil skirt, and a ruffle front detail T-shirt remake. She decided she was going to wear the pieces together to attend the graduation ceremony of this year's leavers from the school where she teaches.

Graduation Day (June 2011)

Playing a part
(a photo on a lawn)
with time sliding along
a thin wire.

Tight-fitting ideals
and memories filed
neatly away in an empty classroom
(one lone magnet holding nothing
but itself to the wall)

Me, straight and curved
(the way a woman looks to a girl)
in an attempt to contain that
red-eyed hope
(no heart to tell how we shrink
and sag with time)

A long-seamed dart
imitates perfect long legs
a perfect shade of pink
and the way the sky changes colour
(nothing to anchor us
but heels in the mud)

The invisible champagne spills
the fireworks scratching at the sky
the insects by the pool
all suggest we are on the cusp of something
(something akin to cliché
but more ruffled and prettier somehow)

A well-measured match

And then, the courage to clash

I really love the ideas and nostalgic snap shots that are woven into this poem. The subtle references to the feel, fit and details of the garments are referenced so cleverly too, IMO.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

SSS '11: Days 7, 8 & 9

I promise posts on topics other than 'what I've been wearing for SSS '11' are in the pipeline. It's been a busy week so keeping on top of my challenge documentation has been all I could manage recently. Thanks for sticking with me!

Day 7: (daytime)

What I wore:

Me-made black sailor trousers, remade jumper, vest and pants. My yellow jacket was worn during my walk to and from work.


Not the most exciting outfit, but perfect for a work day in a chilly studio.

Day 7: (evening)

What I wore:

Leopard Rockabilly dress and leopard coat when I left the flat.


Well, it turns out that Day 7 was also mine and Patty's three year anniversary so after work we got changed and went out for dinner to celebrate! It was really fun to dress up for our special occassion, and I haven't worn this dress for ages but I love it, so it was nice to find a reason to get it out. It's a pretty fun garment but also is quite classy in terms of coverage so I feel really confident and comfortable in it. Who doesn't love that combo?!

Day 8:

What I wore:

Me-made navy skirt, stripey T-shirt and pants. My yellow jacket was worn during my walk to and from work, red cardigan was thrifted.


The other day my boyfriend reminded me that a couple of years ago I was talking about how I'd like to change the way I dressed. I can't remember the conversation particularly, but he says how I wanted to have a stronger visual identity, for the clothes and colours I wear to be more reflective of how I feel inside. When I had to jettison a lot of my wardrobe to move back to UK, I gave away a lot of my more muted-toned garments. I've gone on to rebuild my wardrobe with stronger, clearer toned items which in turn make me feel stronger somehow. The result is my ability to create outfits like Day 8's which I feel is more 'me' as I am these days.

Day 9:

What I wore:

Me-made denim sailor trousers, black T-shirt, Saint cardigan and pants.


It's Friday and delivery day, which means getting a bit grubby, so not a thrilling outfit by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm pleased that my self-stitched wardrobe can cover a multitude of bases, from fancy nights out to practical days at work.

Happy weekend!
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